At long last, Germany’s Lufthansa has decided to fall in line with its European rivals and launch a premium economy cabin next year.
The development is confirmed today by Germany’s respected Suddeutsche Zeitung newpaper.
In an interview, the carrier’s CEO Christoph Franz confirmed that the new cabin “will be introduced in the spring of 2014 when we [Lufthansa] will begin upgrading our fleet.”
As with its rivals, Lufthansa’s premium economy will be installed on its long-haul fleet.
It is reckoned that 10 per cent of the plane’s capacity will be given over to premium economy. The prices for premium economy will be closer to economy rather than business class.
Why has Lufthansa taken so long to make up its mind? One reason is that Lufthansa is a conservative carrier so it tends to follow rather than lead.
Another reason is that Lufthansa has in the past been worried that its passengers might downgrade (to premium economy) from its more profitable business cabins.
It is also believed that market conditions have forced the decision on Lufthansa.
The carrier faces ever greater competition in its home market and with some corporates allowing employees to travel on the basis of price rather than class, there are examples where staff can fly business class with a European, Asian or Gulf carrier for the same price as economy class on Lufthansa.
Granted these airlines may operate indirectly (compared with Lufthansa’s non-stop flights) but business class comfort and service is a big attraction even if the flights take longer.
And, another important point, these rival carriers offer departures from regional airports (such as Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Berlin which are neglected by Lufthansa when it comes to long-haul service) in addition to Frankfurt and Munich.
The final question must be that when Lufthansa adopts premium economy in 2014 will other group carriers like Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Swiss follow suit ?
Business Traveller will be publishing an article examining the "coming of age" of long-haul premium economy article in the April issue.
For more information visit lufthansa.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter